Rockwell Automation is launching the Micro800 PLC family for standalone machine control. Featuring plug-in modules, intuitive software and exceptional versatility, these micro PLCs enable engineers to specify a controller that fulfils the exact needs of their application.
Steve Pethick, Director of Components and Safety Business, EMEA, at Rockwell Automation, comments: "Machine builders need economical, convenient control solutions they can customise to suit specific application needs. With this new line, we are delivering the functionality and flexibility of a micro PLC for the price of a smart relay. The greatest value of the new Micro800 family is the simplicity and convenience it offers users – namely, that it provides 'just enough control'; users will only pay for what they need."
An example of this approach is immediately obvious on the front face of the Micro810, the smallest product in the family. A removable screen – which also doubles as a programme storage and transfer medium – is an option as opposed to a standard. Users can therefore opt for a lower-cost unit without a screen and programme the unit via other means, use a screen as an on-device HMI, or buy a single screen to service multiple units. This option, Rockwell Automation believes, is not available anywhere else at this price point.
Expansion and programming
Pethick continues: "By offering multiple plug-in modules, developed by us and our Encompass Partners – all of which are common across the line – we can help machine builders 'change the personality' of the base unit controller in order to address a multitude of different bespoke scenarios and machine sizes. Indeed, to borrow a well-worn phrase, we can now say 'there is a plug-in for that'." Interestingly, this extra functionality does not consume valuable I/O terminals, as the plug-in modules house their own terminals, leaving the base unit terminals untouched. Furthermore, the plug-in modules mount on the front of the base unit, not the side, so the controller footprint remains unchanged.
Pethick adds: "We have also created 'Connected Components Workbench', a free component-class programming and configuration environment that combines all primary application development needs into a single package. Through this software and building-block style application packages, we are able to offer our customers 80 per cent of their required infrastructure, already 'in position', with the remaining 20 per cent being application-specific." Following established IEC-61131 standards – supporting ladder diagram, function block diagram and structured text – the Connected Components Workbench is a single package that is easy to acquire, install and update. It makes it convenient and cost-effective for machine builders and end users to use one platform for their programming and configuration needs. It also enables machine builders to configure other devices in the system, including PowerFlex drives and PanelView Component HMI products.
Based on proven Rockwell Automation and Microsoft Visual Studio technology, the new software provides controller programming, device configuration and data sharing with the HMI editor for PanelView Component operator products. In addition, the programming software features run-time download, which enables live program adjustments to be made. The software comes in two versions: Standard, which can be downloaded for free, and Developer, which features run-time download, offline controller simulation and advanced debugging features.
As part of the Connected Components bundle, the Micro800 range can leverage application aids that make selection and application easy, pre-built HMI screens and sample programs, panel layout, bill of materials and wiring diagrams using e-tools, preferred compatibility within the bundle of components, and reduced supply chain costs - and all components can be sourced from local Allen-Bradley Distributors.
Allen-Bradley Micro810 PLC
As the smallest of the Micro800 family, the Micro810 programmable logic controller features embedded smart relay function blocks that can be configured from a 1.5in LCD and keypad. The function blocks include Delay OFF/ON Timer, Time of Day, Time of Week and Time of Year for applications requiring a programmable timer and lighting control.
12-pt form factor provides:
- 8A outputs eliminate the need for external relays
- DC models allow four inputs to function as 0-10V analogue inputs
- Program download via USB programming port (adapter required)
- Optional 1.5inch local LCD for monitoring/modifying application data. LCD can be removed/inserted under power and can also function as a backup memory module.
- Configure and run core smart relay function blocks without programming (LCD required)
18-pt form factor and 26-pt form factor additionally have:
- Increased memory and digital I/O capability
- Up to two slots for adding analogue I/O, TC/RTD, serial port and other plug-in modules
Allen-Bradley Micro830 PLC
The Micro830 controller provides increased performance through its ability to manage up to three axes of motion. It also provides easy incorporation of as many as five plug-in modules and enhanced communication options.
- Controllers include built-in support for up to three axes of motion (maximum three Pulse Train Outputs (PTO), six High-Speed Counter inputs (HSC), 100kHz speed of PTO and HSC available on 24V DC models, single-axis moves supported via PLCopen Motion instructions (available in Release 2))
- Use motion plug-in modules to increase performance and extend number of controllable axes to as many as four (available in Release 2)
- Embedded Communications (USB programming port), serial port (RS232/485)
The Micro810 12-pt controllers, Micro830 controllers and plug-in modules are available in spring 2011, with additional plug-in capabilities and motion control support for the Micro830 controllers being available later. The Micro 850, the largest unit in the range, will also be available at a later date and will offer embedded EtherNet/IP communications for interfacing to PCs, PanelView Component HMIs, Kinetix drives and PowerFlex drives. The Micro 850 will have the same form factor as the 24- and 48-pt Micro830, but will also be able to support up to four Expansion I/O modules.
Rockwell Automation says that technical support for the Micro800 PLC family will be available free of charge during office hours.